Juncture

Image: Ross G. Strachan

There is no good time to be told you are being made redundant.

February 2020 was really not a good time to be told that the site where you have worked for 20 years is going to be closing early in 2021. Four weeks later we were in a pandemic and within 6 weeks, the majority of staff at the site were furloughed. There was the inevitable delay effected by lockdowns, but now 17 months later, I am counting down the last few days until I finally step off site for the last time.

 I returned to work from furlough in July last year, to a different site. There is now a one way system in place, so I have gotten used to walking further to get from one place to another than the actual distance between them. There are card slots on toilet doors to ensure no more than 2 people are ever inside at the same time, and tables in the canteen are set out like an exam hall where each person sits alone facing the front. This is not unique; few workplaces, if any, have been unchanged by the need to keep people at a safe distance from each other, and there are many faces I have not seen unmasked in months, though I have spoken regularly to their owners. It is a strange way to end my time at this place, with it so changed from how it has been.

I was ready to leave when they announced the site closure; I had known it was time to move on for a while, but not knowing what my next step should be I had procrastinated.  It was a kick up the backside being told I needed to find the next step directly and not when I got round to it, but I am now happy that I am heading off along a different path.

So it has come as a bit of a surprise to me how sad I am. For all sorts of reasons really. Twenty years is a large chunk of my life. Since starting here I have got engaged, got married, had children, moved house, all to the consistent backdrop of the same workplace. Although plenty of people have come and gone in that time, there are many faces who have been a regular part of my work life for that time. I am grieving for the loss of those people, for the loss of the comfortable familiarity of the place, for the loss of a job that I know I can do.

 The place has been winding down for a while now. As the workload has decreased and fixtures and fittings have been dismantled around us the sense of ending has grown. What was once a busy bustling place is grinding slowly to a halt. So although I am excited and hopeful, about what the future holds, today the joy is tempered by melancholy. As I sit here alone in my office I am inspired to write a poem.

We were warned

We had plenty of notice

Time to prepare

But did we?

Or did we put it on the back burner,

To be dealt with at a later date.

Denial and disbelief obscuring the need to make ready.

Now though, the truth is rushing headlong towards us and

the narrowness of the passage of time leaves no chance for escape.

As reality closes in I embrace nostalgia

Wrapping myself up in the comfort of the contemptuously familiar.

Change will come

What has been will cease to be

And I must move on

I wish to face the future with hope

With the excited joy of infinite possibility

But for now I stand on shaky ground,

unsure of where next to tread

Buffeted by waves of grief that ebb and flow

threatening one minute to overwhelm

Then receding to allow me once more to stand and face what lies before.

Time will find me away from here

I will thrive

And then I will reminisce

With a grateful smile.

Enough

Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash

Occasionally, when I am in the midst of a bout of depression there come odd bursts of anger. Sometimes these are nothing more than the irritability that many experience as one of the symptoms of depression, or a result of the lack of proper sleep, another all too common symptom. Sometimes they are outbursts of cathartic rage against the injustice of mental illness. On rare occasions they are my brains way of saying “Enough’s enough! No more! No more hiding, no more apologizing, no more feeling sorry for myself. It is these outbursts that act as a catalyst, pushing me one more step along a journey of change, of better self understanding, and hopefully a step towards freeing myself from depressions’ grip.

I have had enough of cowering cowardice
Of having so much to hide
Of clutching my mysteries so tightly
I have almost engulfed them in my very flesh
And have shrunk with the weight of them.
But no more curling my defences around my core
As you creep advancing.
I will open up,
I will Unfurl and stand tall.
I will lift my head high and
Throw wide my treacherous arms.
And as I grow taller with each breath
I will let all who would
see all.
For through exposure I am
Emboldened
Enlarged
Empowered
And when I stand full free –
Tall as the sky and
naked as a babe
You will have hold of me no longer.
And I will smite you.

Star

Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how hard you try . . .

There was a star I reached for
I stretched my arms so far
I wanted to embrace it
And clutch it to my heart
I tried so hard to grab it
I sought to make it mine
My hands outstretched, my fingers
In it’s beams I did entwine
But as I tugged I realised
The mistake that I had made
It’s burning heat seared through my flesh
And made me much afraid

There was a star I reached for
I stretched my arms so far
I wanted to embrace it
And clutch it to my heart
With both my hands I grasped it
This glowing orb of joy
My arms grew weak, the might of it
I knew would me destroy
I let it slip from twixt my hands
For I am not that strong
And further heavenward it rolled
And took my dreams along

There was a star I reached for
I stretched my arms so far
My failure to possess it
Will ever break my heart

Chameleon

Chameleon

For years I was something of a chameleon. Not having the self confidence to just be myself I tried too hard to fit in. Depending on where I was going and in particular who I would see, I would adapt. I would wear different clothing, act differently, talk about different things. I could even enjoy things in one situation that I would then ridicule in another. I was simultaneously a goth, a rock chick and a Brossette! In the morning I could spend hours staring into the wardrobe choosing what to wear while I worried about who I would see that day, and if there was any likelihood of me bumping into someone who knew me as someone else. Gradually I became so used to camourflaging myself that I forgot who the real me was, I just knew that I was not quite comfortable being me. It’s been hard work finding myself again, and I am still not quite there, but for now I am content to be on the right path to my true self.

I am not who you think I am
I do not intend to be
Whatever you may think of this
I will be true to me.
I have to find the truth myself
Of who I really am
Or face the consequence of always
Feeling I'm a sham.
The truth of me has gotten lost
Through the passing of the years
But now it’s time to seek it out
No more useless tears.
I know it is no easy task that
I have set my soul
And yet it is essential now
So I may become whole.
Too much time and energy
I've wasted on this scheme
I am, I can, I will be
So much more than I ever dreamed.